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Citizen Voices

Decision To Close OPDs For The Unvaccinated Is Heartless

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When it comes to healthcare and life of the public, the people in corridors of power are least interested. The Sindh province is no exception. It is clear that Pakistan’s vaccine response has been poor. In a crisis such as this one, comprehensive policies are needed in order to achieve the desired results. Making policies without assessing the pros and cons is destined to be destructive if implemented. Unfortunately, the provincial bureaucracy in the Sindh province entrusted with the responsibility of reversing the declining trend of vaccination are doing the same — making hasty decisions without giving a serious thought to implications ensued by implementing these measures. 

The plans based on cosmetic conclusions have neither borne fruit nor will they be fruitful in the foreseeable future. The case in point is the Sindh government’s recent decision to not allow patients to be treated in OPDs at government hospitals whose attendee, the accompanying parents, or guardians are not vaccinated. The imposed order is not going to yield positive results i.e. the rich vaccine response the provincial government is looking for. This misplaced policy is creating unimaginable troubles for the population in the province thanks to a short-sighted solution formed by our policymakers. 

I took my dear father and my three-year-old child to Taluka Hospital at Khair Muhammad Arija. My father was to receive his second dose of Covid vaccine, and my child needed to be checked due to flu and loss of appetite. The hospital staff entrusted with the responsibility of registering OPD patients refused to make the slip, citing official orders that those people won’t be provided treatment at the facility whose attendees, or accompanying parents or guardians are not vaccinated. This prompted me to contact the doctor on duty, who politely excused explaining the same reasons. When I informed the doctor about my scheduled vaccination, he advised me to approach the Medical Superintendent (MS) in order to address the issue, which I did. After showing him the schedule of my vaccine, I requested the MS to let the child be checked by a doctor.

To my utter dismay, despite having seen the slated date of vaccination, the official concerned said, “..get yourself vaccinated now or your child goes unattended. I protested, saying how a child with his grandfather to be vaccinated and father scheduled to receive the first dose be denied access to medical care. The MS said, “I have strict order from the deputy commissioner of the district concerned. Upon my insistence, the MS ordered one of the employees to ask the doctor on duty to attend the child without making entry into the register just to ‘avoid the headache’ — a veiled reference to me.

Imagine the psychological condition of a person whose sick kid is cuddled against his chest while he goes from pillar to post in search of the medical treatment that the child so desperately needs. The staff’s misbehaviour added insult to injury. His colonial tone greatly distressed me. 

Besides, Covid SOPs put in place by the government were being openly violated by none other than the employees including those working in the vaccination room. The person administering the vaccine was neither wearing hand gloves nor a mask.

Banning entry of public in parks, tourist spots, restaurants, wedding halls as a measure to keep coranavirus at bay is a step in the right direction under current covidised environment amid delta varian fears. But the shutting down of OPDs for patients as a means to enforce vaccination drive is not the right approach.The immunological cover for the public is a praiseworthy step. Protecting people from the pandemic does not mean leaving others to suffer. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah must look into this grave matter.

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